An introductory note on the short story “Jamie” by Gina Capperino:
I used to live in a small suburb close to Midway airport — it wasn’t the best area, but I was too young to notice what was really around me. I fell in love with the rainy days in my neighborhood because there would always be a lingering fog that was hard to describe in such a small amount of words. Being a dog person, I was always looking to tell a story about how letting go can be for the better.
Gina Capperino is a junior at Lewis University and a member of the Jet Fuel Review staff.
Frustration. That was all I felt as I tapped my fingers against the steering wheel. Dust danced in my headlights. I had a bizarre feeling someone was watching me – they probably thought I was watching them. This was my second time driving through the neighborhood of Hillside.
My knuckles turned white. I was going to murder my dog when i found her. Jamie was a 7 pound Yorkie who liked to make friends with anyone. She did this often enough that the pet shelter knew her without any collar on.
It was only a matter of time before someone reported my car as suspicious. It happened last time and I was sure the red pigment on my cheeks would be permanent.
I dimmed my headlights as I approached a park. The park had been coated with a thick layer of water. I cringed as my ballet flats filled with brown water. The grass did not hold the water well because I had to use sufficient force when pulling each step out of the water.
There were 4 children playing tag by the red and blue swings. A young woman sat on the bench, ignorant of what the children were doing. She used the light post hanging above her to reflect light upon her book. I was unsure if she was with the children or not.
The beads of water on the metal did not stop the children from twisting, pulling, or climbing on top of it. In fact, the only one who seemed to know a change of weather had taken place was the young woman who breathed ice and shrugged herself further into her cardigan.
As I edged closer to them, my flashlight did nothing to awaken consciousness of the group. Jamie loved water, dirt, mud, and about anything that prevented her from being clean.
I called her name. The young woman looked to me and sat her book in her backpack. I waved to her, a sign of peace. She smiled at me.
I shone my flashlight at the fields of darkness. The flashlight’s rays were engulfed in the water’s depths. There were a thousand areas for her to hide at. I looked to the woman, who was just a few steps away from me.
“Cat or dog?” She asked, rubbing her hands together for warmth.
“My dog. She always does this.”
“What kind of dog? I haven’t seen any strays walking around.”
I knew she wasn’t. She looked around to the children. Fatigue had set in. She stood up and collected her backpack around her shoulders. The 3 girls and 1 boy hurried over, complaining of hunger.
I waved goodbye. I called for my dog again. My echo came from the little boy, who ran ahead of me and looked for my dog. .Much to my surprise, a bark answered the little boy. Making a grand entrance as always, Jamie ran over and across the busy street. Her paws, legs, and belly were covered with mud. She jumped up at the little boy, spreading muddy paw prints all over his blue pants. By the time the first paw print hit, I had lost one of my shoes sprinting over to reclaim my dog. He laughed despite being covered with mud. She squirmed in my arms after I had scooped her up.
“Cassy!” He laughed. I furrowed my brow in confusion.
The woman touched the little boy’s hair as he reached for the dog in my arms.
“Sorry, their dog passed away two days ago. They don’t really understand.”
Jamie enjoyed being played with by the little boy. She licked his hands. A few minutes went by. I was shocked to see how Jamie did not try to find an object she wanted to chase. She was oddly obedient under the boy.
The woman interceded between them, directing the boy towards the end of the street. “Come on James. Let’s let the lady go back home.”
He began to cry, begging for the dog. The woman whispered to me as she picked him up and held a hand on the back of his head. “You should go now.”
“Maybe you should take this one.”
“Your dog? Don’t be silly.”
“She seems to like him. Plus, she doesn’t particularly enjoy me anyhow. She was her shots and a chip.”
“Jessica! Let’s take her! That lady said so!”
I let go of Jamie. She began to claw at the woman’s pants, who released the boy in order to flee the dog away. I began to walk away, trying to eye my car with the flashlight.
I twisted my gold band around my finger. I knew what it was like to lose something. I also knew that letting go of my late husband’s dog was the right thing. It was his dog. Jamie didn’t care for me.
I didn’t touch Jamie’s things for weeks. I went into my fridge, past the Budweiser’s which also were not mine, and brought out the lemonade.
It was sunny when I sat on the porch. A bark awoken me from my book. There was a black and white terrier coming right for my glass.
“Hunter, stop right there!”
I pet the dog who greeted me with endless kisses, pouring out a bit of lemonade on the floor so he could taste it. Finally, the man’s voice had a face. He smiled graciously upon walking up to my porch. He was tall, blonde, and in his early thirties.
I rolled my eyes, looked to my late husband in the sky and blushed. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”